Opinion – Some Arsenal players cannot be fixed, not even by Arteta

 

Mustafi is beyond redemption something Arteta will soon realise.

Jese Lingard. Karius. Shkodran Mustafi. Nicolas Otamendi. These names all ring a familiar bell to the casual football fan. The one for alarm, crisis, a mistake, a daftness and exceptional error-making. They are all defenders, with one remarkable exclusion, whose jobs are to prevent the other team from scoring a goal. And they are all laughably bad at it. From Otamendi’s freewheeling errors within the perfect machine that is Manchester City to Karius’ cataclysmic lapses on one of the biggest nights in football, these players have been responsible for their teams dropping games they otherwise wouldn’t.

Enter Shkodran Mustafi, a prominent challenger for chieftaincy in the exclusive society of the Kariuses and Otamendis. Make no mistake: Mustafi is not a bad defender by any stretch of the word, not for 89 minutes of football anyways. But in the twilight of the 90th minute, whether the ball is with him or not, a perfectly sound (or even borderline world-class) Mustafi will transform without warning into a night beast of unparalleled braindead errors, big paws pawing at the back of an attackers shirt, clumsy feet dealing damage of a radius as big as Hiroshima’s on the pitch. Mustafi, like a repeat of history, is inescapable.

Arsenal might have an antidote these days, a secret potion to keep the night beast from appearing at a full moon. It is in the steely depths of Arteta’s eyes, a young talented coach that with the influence of a genius behind him. Mikel Arteta thinks that he can do the near-impossible: that he can kill all the malignant error-404 cells hiding beneath Mustafi’s sweat glands, an operation of such importance that it might require government assistance and huge media coverage. 

“I don’t believe that at 27 you cannot improve certain aspects of the game; I really believe you can,” the Spaniard said before going on to hint that Mustafi is nothing new under the sun of soccer-land; not when Mustafian contemporaries exist at the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. “I work with players like this and I have team-mates like this and there is always a moment where there is a click.”

A moment where there is a click. Can you catch that? A moment… a click. A click suggests that there is a gap somewhere: a gap in thinking, a blank that ought to be filled with whatever defensive actions Mustafi should be executing instead of raising his hand at the linesman as Wilfred Zaha bullied his way ahead to shoot down Arsenal’s Champions League hopes, an inability to see what is clear as the game swells backwards and forward, a space where a muscle memory from years of professional coaching should be, an instant of darkness in 90 minutes of daylight.

Mustafi appears to be what you have if aliens streamed football on TV, liked what they saw, and used their Universal Copy Machine to create a specimen of a footballer. A footballer without a navel or a memory of youth football, a finished product with an unforeseen and comedic bug in it. No one knows where Mustafi and Otamendi came from but Valencia fans claim they got them from Sampdoria and Porto. But did they, really?

Does anyone remember seeing them play elsewhere before? Are you sure there are videos of them playing youth football? (Don’t worry, once this is published, the aliens will go to work uploading a time-stamped grainy video in which if you squint you might see an outline of Mustafi and only 20 other players on the field.) It seems more likely that the owner of Valencia, Peter Lim, a man of immense wealth and connections, received a fax telling him to come to a certain location at midnight to pick up specimen 00X and 00Y. The specimens would be cold, pale and naked with icicles on chests full of synthetic extension hairs. They would be strangely inactive and wrapped around each other like fish, and they would be presented to the Mestalla crowd after a month of orientation and filling in the background checks. It would then be no surprise when they show up extremely on data radars across the continent. So much so Manchester City and Arsenal would be persuaded by their analysts into paying fortunes for their services.

If Arteta thinks Mustafi can be improved — if only slightly to an Otamendi level — then he might not have had access to see the warning labels which Mr. Lim peeled off their naked chests: WARNING. DEVELOPMENTAL VERSIONS. TO BE USED BY CLUBS WITHOUT BETTER DEFENDERS OR BY CLUBS THAT ARE VERY SUCCESSFUL. DISPOSAL POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS.

That is not to say nothing good can come out of Nazareth. Otamendi is a significant part of Manchester City’s legendary centurions. Karius has minded the goalposts to a Champions League final. Mustafi has been part of a 22-game undefeated run. Even Jese Lingard has opened JLingz, a fashion line that provides gold-rimmed sunglasses, ripped jeans and other such accessories for ten-year-olds who want to look cool. In a high-functioning team, the errors of these players and fashion moguls can be minimized to a certain extent. They can be fantastic at providing vital blocks, interceptions, clearances, saves and wicked cool celebratory dances when it’s needed. What you must accept are the bugs that come with them, those dizzying moments in which it is perfectly legal to take a handgun and escort them out of the stadium to the street where they can have a taxi that will take them back to Area 51.

As long as Mustafi is at Arsenal, then it is appropriate that Arteta should attempt to coax the good out of him, to maximize his better side. That is the right thing to do. Maybe the Europa League games and the FA cup tie against Bournemouth are a clue as to the immediate use of the 27-year-old: maybe they show that Mustafi is less error-prone when his team is dominant with the ball and largely comfortable. High-pressure matches that demand everything you’ve ever learnt in football cannot be risked with the German. If Arteta does not understand this, then the calamitous back pass at Stamford Bridge will not be the last time he will see a Mustafian error.

When all is said and done, the ex-Valencia player represents a traumatic episode to many Arsenal fans and an embarrassment to the club’s sporting potential. Take a page out of the Jurgen Klopp textbook: sell him to a dry cleaning company, loan him to a team in Germany, hide him in the mascot costume if you must or use him as an anecdote for younger players — whatever you do, Mikel Arteta, Shkodran Mustafi must not play for Arsenal beyond this season.

An article by Agboola Israel

39 Comments

  1. Truth says:

    Very entertaining and well-written article Agboola. I hope and assume that Arteta is simply trying to maximize what he’s got at the moment and Mustafi is part of that. I do hope we will bring in better defenders and hopefully Saliba is one of them.

    Luckily, what Arteta has shown (thus far) is that defending is a teams port. I have frequently said that even Van Dijk would look error-prone under Emery or Wenger.

  2. Sue says:

    Where’s Le Coq???

    1. GunneRay says:

      Last I heard Sue he pinched a Cornish pastie whilst on his delivery round and got 10 years imprisonment at Bodmin jail! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

      1. Sue says:

        🤣🤣🤣 best we start a campaign ‘Free Le Coq’ 🤣🤣🤣

        1. GunneRay says:

          Hahahahaha…

          Seriously though Sue, Where has he gone?! I miss his whit! 🤔

          1. Sue says:

            Me too, I hope he’s ok….

            1. Admin Martin says:

              For clarification and yes, I know this has not been brought up. He has not been banned or suspended and I also have no idea where he is and do miss his unique style of commenting, even if it does give me headaches on occasions.

          2. Sue says:

            Gives you a headache?!! I can’t think why 🤣🤣

    2. Innit says:

      He plays for Valencia as a DM

      1. GunneRay says:

        When you say DM, do you mean “Delivery Man”? 😁

  3. Mike says:

    I don’t agree any bad habit or flaw in technique can be rectified it just takes time which varies from player to player personally I feel it’s down to concentration/focus on the job at hand so the question should be why is there a lapse in concentration.

  4. Grandad says:

    A sensible ,well written article devoid of the vitriol which sometimes is a feature of thoughts on Mustafi and others.Unfortunately, at Arsenal we have another two centre backs in Socratis and Luis who are also examples of players who are not from the top drawer.

  5. Tony says:

    At-times am like… If some you consider turning Mustafi around improving his game and insinuating his young at 27yrs; why is bag full experience EPL Dunk, old at 28yrs and Fu***ng expensive at 40-45m..

    Acquiring Lewis Dunk for 40-45m 4years contract is a cool deal.

    Mustafi will always be Mustafi.

  6. Muha Anko Anko says:

    A very well written article but terrible content! You CAN’T Write off a player nor any human being. You are Not God!
    I have never been more disgusted by a way of thinking, If he was your son you would’ve given up on him that fast? Come on!
    STOP it with your personal hatred of him! He is not perfect, I agree, but anyone can Improve. That’s how I see it

    1. Eddie says:

      Muha👏👏👏

  7. Shakir says:

    MA hinted that he will move mustafi in the summer.
    But i cant understand one thing,why do many fans think that they know better than the manager??I am not defending mustafi,i am just asking how much qualified are we to judge people?

  8. Eddie says:

    Well written article but sorry, it’s also one of the most stupid articles I’ve come across on this site, this should be vying for top two among the stupidest articles ever submitted on this site.
    This is me being my unsentimental self as usual.
    Mustafi isn’t a bad defender at all, in fact he’s a very good defender except for his one and biggest flaw which is his lack of focus and lapses in judgment, eventually leading to errors.
    The way the writer wrote this shît up on here, you’d be forced to think Mustafi is the worst defender we’ve ever had.
    No doubts we need to move on from him and bring in world class defenders who can stay consistent but that doesn’t give anyone with some sense of decency to write something about the man like this.
    Arteta sees a lot better than you do, if he believes he can help him, then by all means STFU and let him try.
    Not every sick patient need the same doctor, each and every doctor have their personalities and their approach to relating with patients.
    Also Mustafi is struggling in the EPL doesn’t mean he was always a terrible defender. He was a solid player while at Spain, that was the reason we got him in the first place.
    He needs to move on and go enjoy his career someplace where there’ll be less pressure and expectations from him.
    He really needs that, Arsenal needs it also, but to write such stuffs about the man saying he will never be a good defender reeks of venom. You might use all figurative term to write and sweeten this article but it’s totally crap. Also you had to go with *Mustafi can never be fixed* like he’s a broken toy? piece of something that’s damaged? How TF do you guys just wake up and write stuffs about other human being just like that?
    He’s error prone and he needs to go someplace he’ll feel relaxed because he’s not really a bad defender. Yes he needs to move on, we all blooody know, but neither you nor I have the right to write such crap about a man’s career and pass judgement on him saying he can’t be better.
    Not a lot will agree with me but this is Shameful.

    P.S: AdMartin I know this ain’t yours

    1. Muha Anko Anko says:

      Couldn’t agree more mate! Keyboard and internet has given people too much power!
      While at it, someone should tell him Jesse Lingard is not a defender😊

      1. Admin Martin says:

        That was acknowledged in the very first few lines.

    2. Admin Martin says:

      Bloody hell Eddie, some of you really do make my life harder. I am leaving this comment up unless otherwise instructed but I wish there would be less of the vulgar language including abbreviations or disparaging remarks to get a point across. I actually disagree fundamentally with the conclusion of the article. But as I have always said, all opinions are welcome on here and I want that to always be the case without anyone being anxious to send something in without the risk of being pilloried. When I started managing the comments I would reply as if I was in the pub but was hauled over the coals for it, had my comments removed and reminded that our readership does include kids. Please try to bear that in mind, as I have to.

      1. Eddie says:

        Sorry AdMartin, Correction taken… I’ll do better next time

        1. Admin Martin says:

          Cheers mate

    3. Gunnerphyte says:

      I agree that Mustafi has always been error prone, but what MA said about him after the Mustafi-Luiz calamity against chelsea proves that barring his errors, he’s not bad at all. He’s actually the best tackler amongst the CBs we currently have IMO.

      Arteta showed faith in him again in the Bournemouth match, and boy did that pay off! Mustafi was simply suberp, I was impressed…he was actually the best player until Martinez decided to take him out. his driving passes and the inch perfect diagonals are the example of the abilities we all didn’t know he had. without the ball, his positioning and reading of the game was again exceptional. He showed a lot of confidence, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in that spirit before. See what happens when you show faith in a player instead of abusing them?

      I really don’t understand the why the author of this article is taking a swipe at him even after such a brilliant display. I fail to understand….could be because I don’t speak Stupid.

      1. Koktafo says:

        Give him one beer..

  9. GB says:

    Sorry OT, but Giroud to spurs? Surely not!

  10. Ackshay says:

    If you cut out the excessive funny remarks/insults there is a good article here. Mustafi can have remarkable games where he will completely nullify the opposite striker then do something absolutely stupid to cost us a goal. Perfect example is vs spurs last season, has kane in his pocket all game then proceeds to push kane in the box during a free kick for no apparent reason.

    Mistakes like the one vs chelsea can be forgiven because they are just unfortunate mistake brought forward with defenders being coached to not kick the ball in row z. Crazy tackles and lack of concentration cannot be fixed by coaching as it is simply on the players to improve their mentality.

  11. hydrogen_afc says:

    I wholeheartedly disagree with this article, and someone help me ask the writer of this article that who is he to say someone can never be fixed, mustafi isn’t a bad player at all, he’s not just at the level we want as a player playing for a club like Arsenal, you don’t have the right whatsoever to write someone off like this. how would you feel if you’re the one in the picture??
    there are players who are not suited for the EPL, doesn’t mean they’re not good or they are damaged goods, you didn’t see what the coach saw in him, we’ve seen players who have improved and played better in their thirties than they played in their twenties.
    we’re all human beings. How would he feel if he saw this?

    Discriminating article.

    From Admin Martin – Edited out the unnecessary vulgarity. Be better

  12. GB says:

    Well written article, if a bit flowery in places and trying to impress us with his command of the language but I agree with hydrogen and some of the others, a needless character assassination and downright rude. I just took a break from typing this as I thought I might be being too harsh on Agboola, so read it through again and now I retract my opening line, it’s a load of tosh, a condescending, totally attention seeking article.

    Edited by Admin Martin for obvious reasons

    1. GB says:

      Sorry AdMart but as I’d seen the poo imoji used on here a lot before, thought it would be ok. I accept the slapped wrist🙂

      1. Admin Martin says:

        I know mate, not a slap on the wrist at all. I am under orders with regards to comments going forward.

  13. GunneRay says:

    An entertaining read that should be read without too much seriousness. However, if you do want some previous Arsenal calamities what about Arshavin, Bischoff, Chamakh, Gervinho, Grondin, Jeffers, Luzhny, Stepanovs, Squillaci, Park Chu-Young and Vito Mannone. Now, put that lot in to a starting eleven and you have all the ingredients needed for a complete comedy horror show! 😂 🤣 😭

    1. GB says:

      I don’t agree on Arshavin and Chamakh.
      Arshavin was deadly but Wenger insisted on using him in all sorts of positions apart from his correct one. Remember when he scored 4 goals at Liverpool? Chamakh was bought in when RVP was injured and scored I think, 11 goals in his first 12 or so games but was dropped when RVP returned and lost all confidence after that. Agree with you on the others though and there are a few you missed off🙂

  14. Rkw says:

    Not one premiership team came sniffing around this guy when it looked certain he was on the market … says it all … he was looking ok against Bournemouth until injury and has had the odd decent game … but he has been an expensive flop for the club however that is expressed … the moral indignation in responses to this piece is bizarre

  15. John says:

    The dude is low in confidence yet some of you guys continue to beat him down further….. Mustafi’s reaction to the fans cheers after his injury said it all …..he needs our support…..defenders are being asked to do more than defend….meaning we should expect mistakes…MA said he did what he was asked to do …he could have booted that ball away but followed the instructions he was given…his long range passing is becoming a big asset….we now have Luiz… Xhaka and mustafi who can do those long passes…..let’s support every part of this team…..criticize them…..not destroy them…..even managers homes are being invaded…..it’s becoming a bad sports off the field…..

  16. Georgy says:

    @Admin Martin.When you selected this article I thing if your intention was to get “clicks” is understandable,due to your role but also I thing you should also exercise the role as an ” Arsenal fan” of your ” right of veto” to stop articles that attack and damage the image of one of our most combative player,not matter how well written was that piece of rubbish.

    1. Admin Martin says:

      I can veto any article I want apart from those handed to me by my boss. However, I would not have vetoed this article if the option was available to me. I have already stated I disagree with its conclusion but I have also said that all articles are welcome on here within reason. While this one did get close to the line I personally did not feel it crossed the line.

  17. James says:

    Man the conclusion to this article! Holy…Are we this cold/mean? I may disagree with Mustafi’s play/thought process, but this right here is the meanest article I’ve read about an Arsenal player. Tone down Israel, this aint it bruh. Just chill man, chill Musti doesnt deserve this.

  18. kklin says:

    “Mustafi is not a bad defender by any stretch of the word, not for 89 minutes of football anyways. But in the twilight of the 90th minute…”. If u ask me I think the writer is right on this one. Nicely written article yet again. Thumbs up Agboola.

  19. Franko says:

    If you watch his game against Bournemouth before he got injured, he has changed his approach in the way he now plays. He no longer tries to be a creative central defender by passing the ball on the ground through the middle to a midfielder which has been his Achilles heel in most games he has played because it gets intercepted 90% of the time which eventually cause problems for our defense but has now resorted to long diagonal balls to the wings. He had over ten long balls to the wings and strikers which we haven’t seen from Mustaphi before he got injured. Secondly, he now sticks to his man when we are being counter-attacked and tries to win the ball back rather than leaving his man and start running backwards to the 18 yard box where the defense is even more in danger of conceding a goal. Those are his main problems all season and since he is willing to cut them out, he will be a very solid defender for us. Arteta spotted those same errors and I believe we will be seeing less of them from Mustaphi. COYG!

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